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You’ve got a full-time job? How about creating a budget?

Today's post is written by ECS Graduate Advisor Jillian Baer, who advises intern, co-op, and full-time employment seeking students.

With your first “big” job comes your first “big” paycheck.  But it also comes with the question of what to do with all of your hard-earned cash.  It is important to take time now to plan out your budgeting and saving so that you can be successful in the long run.  Here are some helpful tips for creating a budget after landing your first full-time job:

  •  Start by figuring out your take-home pay. 

Most young college graduates don’t realize that they’re actually taking home only about 75% of their paycheck once taxes, Social Security, and 401(k) contributions are factored into the equation.  Make sure to discuss these issues with your employer and utilize online tools (some listed below) to help get a better idea about how much you will actually be earning before starting your new job.

  • Calculate necessary expenses such as rent, utilities, gas, and food. 

Spend some time before you actually begin the job calculating how much you’re spending each month on these necessary expenses.These will vary for each individual and your personal tastes, so it will look different from your roommate or older sibling.It may even change once you leave your college lifestyle behind, so be sure to keep this in consideration as your planning for the future.

  • Consider getting a credit card.

Before taking this step, make sure you know yourself and how you will react to having this form of spending.It takes time to build a credit history, so the sooner you start, the easier it will be, but credit cards can also be dangerous in the wrong hands.They often hold the highest interest rates and can be the most tempting to use in irresponsible ways.That is why it is so important to know if you are the type of person that will be able to use a credit card responsibly and pay it off on time each month.If so, this should be a definite step!

  • Plan for two types of savings.

It is important to always have a stash for emergencies, such as losing your job or a hefty medical bill, AND longer-term savings that will help you to get what you want out of life.  Think about what you want to accomplish (house, car, family, vacations) and what dollar amount you need to make these things happen.

Some additional helpful tips:

  • Consider automatic bill payments or automatic transfers to a savings account each time you’re paid.  This locks away money before you have the chance to spend it.  “Pay yourself first and the bill collectors after.”  This tip will allow you to begin saving early in your career and plan for big purchases or be prepared for a rainy day.
  • There are a lot of helpful online tools to help you manage your finances.  YourMoneyPage.com can help calculate paychecks and income.  Mint.com can help users to link all of their financial information to one account and balance expenses and set budgets.
  • GET HELP!  If you have questions about your benefits or 401(k) it is YOUR responsibility to ask the questions that matter at your place of employment.  Some students find that seeking out a financial advisor makes them accountable to someone and helps them stay on a plan.  Many banks also offer free financial services to clients, so take advantage and meet with someone to discuss your options for saving, investing, credit cards, etc.

“Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.” – Woody Allen

Categories: Miscellaneous